A New Season To Flourish

  

I love trees. I love to see them so tall with their broad, ever changing and majestic crowns. They sway with the breeze in gentle praise.  In the storm, they bow down low in humble worship. 

 

My favorite time to watch the trees is when they are in full array in late spring and of course, summertime. 

 

To watch the trees, I go to “Africa”. 

My front yard is lined with big, flat rocks. Some might call them boulders, but in comparison to the geological wonders here, they are merely big rocks. These rocks are a nice decoration to our yard but also provide a place to sit, something for Cowboy, my son, to climb on, and cool relief to a dog’s belly in the summertime. Mostly, they are a warning of the 30 foot drop on the other side, which if not heeded would surely be a painful tumble down to the Creek Road.  

But I digress …… One of these rocks is marvelously shaped almost identically, like the continent of Africa.  Here is where I sit to contemplate the cosmos, and to commune with my God.

 

It’s been far too long since I’ve visited Africa. Nature has prevented our coming together for nearly six months. Today I was drawn to her; my sprit man yearned for a meeting. I sat down in the warm sunshine. A gentle breeze blew across my face and through my hair. Yes, it was good to be back.  With my face to the sky, I soaked in the sunshine, which had been so very absent from my life as of late. I began to feel lazy and lay down on my side, looking out over the valley. 

 

I could see the tops of many trees, yet had as many more to tower above me as if to keep me humble. Today my trees did not look very majestic. They swayed with the stubble of leaves just beginning, like an awkward adolescent between childhood and man, gangly and sprawling. Still, they moved in quiet praise. I wondered, “Do they ever yearn for spring like I do?” A silly notion of course, impatience in a perfectly designed, life sustaining part of creation, ha! But it led me to consider …..

 

It must have taken much to withstand the winter we had this year. For six months they’ve weathered high winds, snow, sleet, and spent many weeks entombed in ice. As they stood dormant and resting, strong against the onslaught and cruel grip of winter, many lost limbs, big limbs, that had not been strong enough to withstand the trial. Loss which was undoubtedly needed, as the dead wood drained precious life from the healthy tree. Several trees didn’t make it at all.  Yet here they are, continuing life again.

 

Being in a spiritual place right now where everything appears to be the same yet nothing is familiar, I thought about my trees. How beautifully perfect my God is.  I have weathered many storms, feeling dormant and useless at times. Yet the trials have broken off my deadwood, pruning me, getting me ready and allowing me “rest” as God prepared me for growth.  In this new place God is bringing me, I feel like that gangly adolescent, attempting to grow, struggling to understand, and desperately trying to bloom. 

 

I lay on my rock for a long time, telling God how marvelous He Is. Adoring His love and all knowing wisdom for what we need, when we need it. I told Him how marvelous He is to have created such amazing things. In reply He whispered ever so gently, “Yes, but my daughter is the greatest of My creations. You too will flourish again and be green and lush, just as your trees will.”

 

Though at times I’ve foolishly doubted spring would EVER get here this year, logically and in my heart, I knew it would. So I stand, as my trees stand. I’ve withstood the winter, I’ve shucked my deadwood, I’m ready for my spurt of growth, I’m ready to flourish! I don’t have to understand it all. I don’t have to be graceful and never trip, for His grace upholds me.  All I have to do is stand …. stand with all of creation and give my Father praise ….. 

 Just like the trees.

                    ~ Sandra K. Yates 


Flourish #FeatureFriday

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I found this amazing blog last Summer and recently connected on Twitter with Malika Cox of Flourish. I know you all will be moved not only by her story but also be incredibly blessed by her encouraging words. I am so happy to introduce you all to this weeks #FeatureFriday – Malika Cox.

~XXOO Michelle Bollom

Malika Cox lives in Oklahoma City. She spent her younger years battling addictions, self-destructive behaviors and low self-esteem; as well as in and out of emotionally abusive relationships. She was involved in the underground music and Goth scene in both New York City and New Orleans.

In December of 1996, while she was living in New Orleans, she opened the Bible for the first time in her life, and read Psalm 56:13, “For You have delivered my soul from death. Have You not kept my feet from falling, That I may walk before God, In the light of the living?”

For some reason she knew that morning, after reading the Psalm, that she had to leave New Orleans immediately and go to the airport to fly home to Oklahoma City. She did not go into work that day and three of her co-workers were killed on a shift she was supposed to work.

After she learned of what had happened she was devastated. She knew her life was in shambles and at that moment she asked Jesus Christ into her life to be her Lord and Savior. She spent the first two years as a Christian in limbo. She knew God had saved her but she didn’t know God’s Word or His promises for her as a believer.

She eventually found a wonderful Bible-based church in Oklahoma City and enrolled in a two-year Bible College. After graduating, she has devoted her life to Christian ministry, service, and the study of God’s Word.

She currently writes the popular blog Flourish at Flourish.tv. She is the author of the Bible Curriculum Glow From the Inside Out. Glow is a spiritual health recipe book made up of the following four ingredients: Grace, Love, Others & Win. Glow focuses on the believer’s identity in Christ as the “Beloved,” unmerited favor, the radical love of God, intimacy with Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit.

A portion of all GLOW curriculum proceeds goes towards The Harvest Gardens, a community garden and social enterprise for at risk women in Oklahoma City, http://www.theharvestgardens.com.
www.theharvestgardens.com

Malika’s upcoming book Flourish: 365 Day Devotional is coming out at the end of January 2015. It will feature a short Christian devotional for each day of the year, reminding us that God has blessed us since the beginning to grow, multiply, develop and thrive.

Malika is an anti-human trafficking advocate and she is currently pursuing her masters degree in Theological Studies at Regent University.

Connect with Malika Cox:
Malika.cox@flourish.tv

http://www.flourish.tv

Flourish & Shine!
Malika Cox

Follow on Twitter: @malikacox

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